PERKINSTON, MS (MGCCC) - Mississippi Gulf Coast shrugged off a sluggish first half Thursday and exploded in the third quarter on the way to a 48-25 defeat of East Central.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0 MACJC South) scored 35 points in the first 13:09 of the second half on the way to 41 unanswered points. Zach Farrar had a pair of long touchdown receptions, and Saivion Smith's pick-6 gave Gulf Coast a lead it would never relinquish at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
"We just didn't play the way I knew we were capable of. We regrouped in the second half and I was proud to see how the guys responded. I was proud of how they played."
The Gulf Coast defense held the Warriors (1-3, 0-2) to 13 points while the game was in doubt, substituting liberally in the final quarter. Down 13-3 coming out of the halftime locker room, the Bulldogs ran the ball down East Central's throat.
Deandre Torrey (Fr, Gautier/Gautier) had runs of 29 and 25 yards on the six-play drive. It ended with a short touchdown Torrance Gibson (So, American Heritage/Plantation, Fla.).
The momentum completely swung the other way three plays into the next Warriors drive. Smith (So., IMG Academy/St. Petersburg, Fla.) made them pay for a big mistake.
"I saw the ball deflect off the receiver's hands, and I needed to make a play," he said. "We needed the points on the board. I did what I had to do."
His 43-yard pick-6 made it 17-13, and the runaway Bulldogs train was just starting to pick up speed.
Gibson found Farrar (Fr, Southlake Carroll/Arlington, Texas) behind the ECCC defense for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
"They kind of sucked in with us running the ball, trying to stack the box," Farrar said. "There was an opportunity on the outside and I made the play. I had to do it for the team because we need to make the plays in the second half."
Gibson added his second short touchdown on the next Bulldogs possession. He'd take advantage of an ECCC player jumping offside on their next drive to make it 38-13. Farrar ran the default go route and the duo connected for a 48-yard TD.
That completed a four-play, 98-yard drive that started with three Torrey runs for 50 yards. Torrey had 10 rushes for 108 yards, and Terrion Avery (Fr, Stone/Wiggins) had eight carries for 61 yards. Their hard running paved the way for Gibson's short scores, and the Bulldogs ran for 283 yards on 44 carries, an average of 6.4 per rush.
"Both of them do a good job of seeing the hole and accelerating through it," Huff said. "There's not a lot of dancing around. They do a great job not being tackled easily."
Gibson competed 12 of 19 passes for 183 yards and the two touchdowns to Farrar.
R'Tarriun Johnson (Fr, Stone/Wiggins) squelched a third-quarter ECCC drive with the defense's second interception.
"We did a good job of adjusting," Huff said. "We made some adjustments at halftime. We were able to get those two interceptions, which were key. In the second half, we were able to get off the field on some third downs unlike the first half."
Mason Hunt (Fr, Stone/Wiggins) started and ended the 41-point explosion with a pair of field goals. He made kicks of 40 and 33 yards, plus all six extra points to stay perfect with three field goals and 17 PATs on the season.
Javarous Walker (Fr, Pascagoula/Pascagoula) added a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter for Gulf Coast.
The Bulldogs will put their perfect South record on the line next week at Hinds, which thrashed Pearl River 42-16 Thursday to stay unbeaten.